It was still dark and there was dense fog when I started from my home with Ma. We were going to my Granddad’s place. From there, we were supposed to go to ISBT to catch a bus to Ludhiana. I was kicked. The opportunity to go out of Delhi had come fallen in my lap; I wasn’t going to let it go.
But everything wasn’t going to go great. My uncle who was to come from Mumbai the previous night so that he could join us, landed at 2:00 a.m. That meant we could not leave early as I wanted to. So delay and delay and more delay had pissed me off completely. I had nearly 3.5 hours to kill. In the meanwhile, I went for a walk in a park near their place. The fog was still quite dense even at around 8.
On the way I sawLong stretches of green fields; yellow spreads of mustard crops; those tall trees with a white trunk; Carriers that belonged to Tamil Nadu and were visible after almost every kilometre for about 50 kms; brand new army trucks going somewhere, lots of gurudwaras, trains running parallel, and at least a 100 boards directing towards villages.
The evening sky was one of the prettiest sunsets I’ve ever seen or at least remember. The horizon could not look more perfect from my window. To be precise: at 6:30, the light was dim, there was a symmetrical line of trees after the fields that was the darkest shade of green, about two inches of a dense layer of orange, then a 4-inch layer of violet, then 3 inches of faint yellow, then a wide layer of light blue, after that it was dark blue that kept getting darker and then there was a crescent moon. It was splendid.
The bus got late for some reason and it was almost 8 by the time we reached my mom’s cousin’s place.
They are a joint family. I had met some of them earlier, some I’d forgotten, and some I was meeting for the first time. They were all very warm people.
December 24th, 6:00 a.m.It was cold and I was bold (Err). There was a gurudwara opposite the house and they were reciting the shabad on a microphone while I was taking a bath. I rarely feel holy about things; this was one incident when there was nothing else to think about and nothing else to feel.
We were on a Punjab Roadways Transport Corporation bus headed to Phagwara at 7:30 a.m. We crossed the Sutlej but I could not see it. All I could see was the railing of the bridge. The fog was otherwise not so bad but of course, on the river it was. The chill in the air was the real chill…the chill that we are longing for in Delhi for weeks now. All my layers were failing me. But I was loving it.
8:00 a.m.A big, bright ball in orange was rising in the sky. Orange! I felt each soft ray that was hitting the glass of the window.
From Phagwara, we took a bus to Hoshiarpur and from Hoshiarpur to Chintpurni, Una, HP, our destination. It was even colder on the way to Hoshiarpur but thereafter it started getting sunny.
My first view of the Shivalik Range was at around 9:45 a.m. I went there after about 10 years but I still had memories. Vague, but they were there. So I saw lots and lots of monkeys, sharp turns, unique trees, dams, small huts, towns, picnic resorts, and more for over an hour. From the Chintpurni Bus Station, I could see snow capped Himalayas. They were so close. I wanted to extend this holiday, fuck all sorts of studies, and travel more. I was under a 100 kms away from Dharamshala. But as of then, I was dreaming.
We took a direct bus back to Ludhiana from there and were home before 7:00 p.m. That day’s sunset happened early and was different from the previous day’s. It was all pink. Pink sun, pink rays and pink sky. Awesome!
December 25thWe started our journey back home at about 10:00 a.m. Mom and I had our co-passenger changing every few hours. Each time, it was a woman with a kid. And the last one of the day was the biggest chaen (I hope you get the pronunciation of that word right). Oh, but there was this other kid who was sitting two seats ahead of mine. He was standing and facing us most of the time. Very fair, brown hair, bright eyes, chubby, cute and naughty – that’s what he was like. I gave him a smile, he gave me a smile; he showed me his tongue, I showed him mine, he showed me his, I showed him mine, then he showed me his again and his mother caught him. So from then on, he was doing it slyly…making sure that she doesn’t find out but also making sure that I see what he was doing. He was funny.
We touched Delhi at 3:45 pm. and I switched my radio on. I knew was back to the grind but somehow even this felt good. The real feel good factor was an email with my next entrance exam’s test centre. Perfect end to the perfect vacation!